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Outdoor Leadership Development Series

A leadership development program for improving competence in the backcountry and leadership in all walks of life.

*The OLDS program is currently on pause.  Check back in Fall 2022 for information and updates!

Who: This series is open to all University of Wyoming undergraduate and graduate students who share a passion for the outdoors. Enrollment is limited to 12 participants, with selection based on an application and interview process.

What: Both indoor and backcountry sessions will be used to provide a foundation for leading others in a wilderness environment. Each component of the series will focus on one or more of the following: improving outdoor technical skills, applying leadership methods, and obtaining wilderness medicine training. 

Participants will discuss outdoor leadership and practical application, participate in various types of outdoor activities, both shadow and assist on Outdoor Program activities, and have a chance to hear from guest speakers. OLDS students will obtain a number of certifications upon program completion including: OLDS Graduate, Leave No Trace Trainer, and Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder.

When: The year-long series runs from October through May. Please see the embedded program below. Bi-weekly meeting days and times are not finalized and will be dependent on selected candidates' schedules/availability. 

Application Process: The OLDS application will typically open online on the first day of fall classes. The application period will be open for the first month of classes. 


Successful participants will...

  • Participate in several multi-day OLDS programs, including a basic climbing skills and backcountry cuisine weekend in the fall, and a backcountry yurt trip prior to the start of the spring semester. 

  • In the fall, you will "shadow" an Outdoor Program activity and participate in bi-weekly OLDS meetings. 

  • Complete a wilderness medicine certification course of your choosing at a discounted rate. Our Wilderness First Aid course (24 hours) occurs in November and our Wilderness First Responder course (40+ hours) occurs in January. This course is the only required fee of participating in OLDS. 

  • You will again "shadow" an Outdoor Program activity prior to spring break in the spring semester, and then "assist" in an Outdoor Program activity after spring break, and continue participation in bi-weekly meetings.

  • Plan and execute a week long backpacking trip over Spring Break in Utah as if you were leading the trip professionally. Each OLDS participant will be the Leader-Of-the-Day (LOD) during this trip, giving you immediate, real judgement and decision opportunities. 

  • Commit to all program components, no exceptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Key traits in an ideal OLDS candidate include a serious commitment to the program, a strong interest in the outdoors, a desire to improve themselves and their skills, a supportive and inclusive attitude, and a sense of adventure. We are looking for a diverse set of students who have the desire and capacity to become great leaders. 

Things that are not very important, include: technical outdoor skills, extensive leadership experience, or impressive outdoor accomplishments. We encourage everyone to apply, regardless of outdoor experience. We screen candidates based upon the number of commitments they are undertaking.

OLDS is intended to train you into an effective fledgling outdoor leader and educator. We teach transferable leadership skills such as group development, and managing risk, as well as outdoor-focused technical skills such as winter travel, backpacking, minimum impact camping skills, and wilderness-based medical training. This program will prepare you to begin a career leading and guiding professionally; if you decide not to continue in the outdoors, you will retain leadership skills that will benefit you in any job or academic environment that you pursue. A committed OLDS participant will make an ideal candidate for the Outdoor Program Field Staff position following completion of the program.

Commitment is vital to the success of this program. In addition to a willingness to be a valuable group member, you will need to commit to ALL of the requirements of the program listed above. 

Contact Us

Outdoor Program

Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center, Rm. 141

1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3604

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2402


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1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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